The Belizean rap artist Shyne, who became an orthodox Jew and moved to Israel, has teamed up with Israeli music exporter Oleh! Records to help at-risk youth in Belize, Central America, through music.
The pilot project, titled Let’s Fill This Town With Musicians, is a first-of-its-kind music residency program, where Israeli musicians will guide and teach under-privileged youth communities worldwide, starting with Belize.
The project says its philosophy lies in the power of music as a positive vehicle for change. Shyne, along with Israeli musicians and educators, will teach music and record production skills.
Shyne, who was once sentenced to ten years in jail for his involvement in a New York nightclub shooting, which also included Sean Combs (Diddy), says he has embarked on a new path in life with his conversion to Judaism.
Exporting knowledge, making music records
Oleh! Records was founded in 2007 as a non-profit organization that supports thousands of Israeli musicians and music events around the world.
Jeremy Hulsh, Oleh! Records founder and Executive Director says: “we are proud and excited to team up with Shyne in this incredible project that will affect thousands of Israeli and Belizian young people through music education and outreach. With Shyne’s and Oleh Records’ vision we will keep the town of Belize City filled with musicians.”
Shyne has already been working to help the citizens of Belize with the King David Foundation. Last year he donated a recording studio to the community in Belize City, which will be turned into a Music Education and Resource Center to house this new project. It will also feature as a work space, practice room, library, performance hall, and a computer center.
This year, eight to ten youth participants will take part in 30-day residencies, with programs running four to five times throughout the year. The activities will take place after school, for up to four hours per day. At the end of the residency, the music educators will work with around 500 local youths to compose and record songs for an album to be distributed internationally.
Why Belize? Why music?
All revenue from downloads of their compositions will be recouped by the youth musicians who participated in the program and Shyne plans to select one of the songs to adapt into a major international release.
“Belize is a meaningful place to start, not only because of Shyne’s personal connection, but because of its potential to benefit from the project. Forty-three percent of the population lives below the poverty line, with an alarmingly low number of children finishing primary school,” says Hulsh.
The program aims to empower young people in the developing world and urban environments by providing music education to foster creativity. “This way Belizean youths can direct their energies into something productive rather than into street crime, violence, and drugs,” says Shyne. He adds: “I really believe in music and music education as an alternative to violence. It’s important to have the music education resource center as a place where these kids can escape from violence, and hopelessness.”
Although the Let’s Fill This Town With Musicians’ program is still being developed and waiting for further funds, the organizers hope it will serve as a pilot for other countries in the future. “This project has great potential and we intend to replicate its success all over the globe for years to come,” says Jeremy Hulsh. Shyne adds: “we want those at-risk children to find the creativity inside.”